Friday, September 7, 2012

How Big Is Our Government's Debt Problem?

As I discussed on Wednesday, we cannot escape the fact that we are in a fiscal mess. While our total government debt equaled $381 billion in 1970, today it is pushing $16 trillion. That’s trillion with a t. The average U.S. taxpayer owes over $140,000 in debt.

 While conventional wisdom on the right sees Democrats and President Obama as especially profligate, the sad fact is that it has not mattered much which party is in power. Both parties have contributed mightily to our fiscal woes. It turns out that 7% of the current U.S. Government Debt accrued before Ronald Reagan took office. The Reagan administration added over 13% to our current debt. The next two presidents made similar though slightly lower contributions, with George Bush I adding 10.5% and Clinton adding 9.8%. An astounding 42.7% of our debt, however, was accumulated during the administration of George W. Bush and President Obama had already accumulated 16.8% by the end of last year. The bottom line is this: Government spending and debt has increased with both Republicans and Democrats in the White House. Government spending and debt has increased with both Republicans and Democrats controlling Congress.

Things have only gotten worse following the financial meltdown of 2008. It took from 1789 to 2001 to accumulate a federal debt of $5.8 trillion. However our rulers added an identical $5.8 trillion in four short years between 2007 and 2011. The top ten monthly budget deficits have all occurred since February 2009.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more new debt than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Bill Clinton became president. Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. national debt has increased by an average of more than $64,000 per taxpayer. In fact, Barack Obama will become the first president to run deficits of more than a trillion dollars during each of his first four years in office.

Such developments have culminated in record-breaking fashion this March. The Government of the United States achieved a sad milestone of spending more than in any other month in our nation’s history. Federal spending topped $396.4 billion. That amounts to $1,190 for every American man, woman, and child. At the same time, it collected only $550 per citizen in taxes. That’s right. The government spent over 2 times what it brought in through taxes. Now the grand total stands at $15.9 trillion. U.S. Government Debt has grown over 2 and a half times in just 11 years. And we add well over a hundred million dollars to our debt every single day.

When we begin talking in trillions of dollars it can easily boggle the mind. The numbers are so large it is beyond anything we can relate to in our daily lives. Merely saying 1 trillion is a thousand billion, doesn’t really cut it. To give you some perspective on the magnitude of our current debt, understand this: If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now. It staggers the imagination but it is true.

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